In a recent Pastor Resource’s survey, church leaders responded that outreach is the number one need felt in the church. This need is no surprise since nearly all churches consider themselves dedicated to spreading the word of God and include the term outreach in their mission statement. But why is today’s church falling short in fulfilling the Great Commission?
The Mind Shift
It all begins with a shift in focus. The church must change from traditional forms of outreach to authentic forms of relationship building. For years, the church has acted, or not acted, out of fear of hurting someone’s feelings. We need to push this notion aside and look into what society is telling us. Today, with all the consumption of immediate information and technology we see an increase in human loneliness and an increased desire in people for community and long-term relational experiences. So how does the church respond? The church needs to stop looking at Sunday as the primary form of outreach. Some churches pour so much energy and resources into Sunday service that they forget the week consists of 7 days, giving us more opportunity to serve the community.
A purposeful outreach plan that includes being relational in the community will likely increase church attendance. While an increase in visitors is a nice dilemma to have, it is one that needs to be planned for.
Begin by creating space within your building to reach people. This space may be a welcome center that resembles the local café, a large multi-purpose room that can be used for sporting events or a space converted into smaller rooms with portable partitions for the local scouts’ programs. With the flexibility portable walls provide there is no need to leverage ministry space for the purpose of outreach. The movable walls offer a cost-effective way for you to create your desired space anywhere within your facility.
Humans have a sincere desire to connect with others. Look at how people count the number of likes on their social media channels. Everyone wants to be noticed. They want to be part of something. The best inclusive outreach events are ones that are intentional. We’ve included a few ideas.
- Neighbor/work relationship- Build natural relationships with everyone whether at work or in the neighborhood. Have casual gatherings where everyone is invited and feels welcome. Try starting Flamingo Fridays in your neighborhood, host a gingerbread decorating night or pumpkin carving event in your garage or the church’s multipurpose room. These events should be casual, light-hearted, and fun.
- Not surprising, Vacation Bible School (VBS) is the number one evangelical tool in the United States- Plan to host a VBS during Spring Break, Winter Break or during the Summer. On the last night of VBS ask parents to attend and have the students showcase what they’ve learned throughout the week. This event connects the parents to the ministry and invites them inside your church building. Hand out flyers for your next churches’ family event, like a movie night.
- Community events- Hosting a community event ties your church to the community. Think of natural ways for your host a celebration. For instance, treat the community to a Fall festival, Easter egg hunt, and a Summer movie night or concert.
- People are creatures of convenience. For some, the most significant impact you can have on a person is meeting them where they are at, on their time and their terms. Serving out amongst the community is a great way to serve the Lord, your family, and neighbors. Rather than your church creating its own sports programs, go volunteer to lead or coach the local youth at the YMCA or community center. Offer to host a few games or practices at your church gym.
One of the greatest tools a church has to serve the community is their facility. Look for ways you can open your hearts and church home to form authentic relationship all around you. You can do this by being intentional in your church space to meet more needs and people in your community. Incorporating flexible walls and furniture allows you to share your facility with others without being limited by the structure that forms it. Additionally, think outside of the box for ways to reach the community. But most of all, be you, be kind, be Christ.